The beauty of the music business is that you can write, record and produce music endlessly. There is no age limit and there certainly is no ageism, especially when you’ve got Leonard Cohen still releasing commendable material at 77-years-of-age and managing to make it to number one in nine different countries. With Ed Sanders on production, Old Ideas is poetically driven by modest personnel and, quite simply, by an arrangement of old thoughts.
Without question, there was an immense amount of hype and anticipation for this release. After all, for any Cohen die-hards, seeing a title Old Ideas was an adrenaline booster on its own, even without teasers. The title may refer to his early-70s desire to generate spare-sounding tracks, which was a bit of a folk-craze at the time. This sort of minimalism is traversed all along the 10 tracks. Most respectably, each equally distributed instrument bares no electronic manipulation – something that Cohen wasn’t a fan of during his early Columbia days.
Though he is practising these old ideas, is there a sense of newness to it? Based on lyricism, Cohen creates a more deep and personal platform, discussing the tastelessness in aspects of life he once loved, the poetically typical style of attempting to find true salvation and the temptations of a simply objectified life. Though colourfully put, it’s nothing new. Musically, Neil Larsen’s Hammond B3 in ‘Darkness’, for the first time in the album, spawns a Jimmy Smith sway, while Cohen’s addition of The Webb Sisters on backing vocals forms a tranquilly aesthetic ambience. Regrettably, they are the two of few musical focal points. Nonetheless, what we have here is a sage poet still in tune with what’s still acceptable in pop culture, despite the few fragmented dispersals of mundane sounds. Though he thinks of himself as “a lazy bastard living in a suit”, Cohen finds himself, yet again, entertaining a newer generation.